The capacity for bird tourism continues to grow in Antigua & Barbuda (A-B), thanks to the efforts of local environmental non-profit, Environmental Awareness Group (EAG). In 2012, EAG created the country’s first birding trail at Christian Valley in southwest A-B, with funding support from the Finnish Embassy. To assist in the further development of birding tourism in the country and to assess in a critical and informed way where the focus of these development efforts should be directed, EAG secured a second grant from Finland to complete a resource assessment and engage potential stakeholders.
Thus, during the last week of April sustainable tourism specialist Ted Eubanks and Caribbean Birding Trail Project Manager Holly Robertson visited several locations in A-B to assess the potential for further development of bird tourism opportunities (this trip was reported on last month in this blog, see previous posts). Key stops on the islands were areas known for their importance in supporting significant populations of a variety of bird species. These areas included sites like McKinnon’s Saltpond, Walling’s Forest, and Christian Valley on Antigua, and Two Foot Bay and Codrington Lagoon in Barbuda. Click here for a gallery of photos taken by Mr. Eubanks during the assessment.
After the assessment, Mr. Eubanks completed a report that details his findings and identifies needs for developing bird tourism. The report can be read by clicking here. Mr. Eubanks and Ms. Robertson returned to Antigua to present the information detailed in the report during a workshop held on June 25-26. Over the two days, approximately 50 stakeholders participated in the workshop, representing companies and institutions such as the Ministry of Tourism, the National Parks Department, the Barbuda Tourism Council, Wadadli Nature Park and Antigua Adventures.
During the workshop Mr. Eubanks discussed several key topics: the birding resources of Antigua & Barbuda, the market for bird tourism, and connecting the market to the resource. The workshop also included a field trip to McKinnon’s Saltpond where many of the participants got a chance to look through scopes for the first time at bird species that many had not known existed. The two days culminated in an afternoon of brainstorming by the participants about how to address several of the issues that are currently impeding bird tourism opportunities on the islands.
We look forward to hearing many more exciting things from Antigua & Barbuda! If you would like more information about to conduct a resource assessment and workshop on your island, please contact Holly Robertson.